Flock of sheep to return to Governors Island to assist in eliminating invasive plant life

They’re baaaaack! A crew of hardworking sheep are returning to Governors Island for landscaping duties.

The fluffy family, Flour, Sam, Evening, Chad, and Philip Aries, are from Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm in Albany and joined the team at Trust for Governors Island last summer. The flock will spend its second summer in a row helping to control invasive plant species in Hammock Grove’s young urban forest and ensuring the area’s biodiversity can thrive for years to come.

“We are thrilled to welcome our four-legged landscapers back to Governors Island. They may be cute and fuzzy, but these hardworking sheep also provide an incredible service to the Island by supporting our horticulture team in clearing invasive species that otherwise would harm our growing urban forest in Hammock Grove,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of The Trust for Governors Island. “Flour, Sam, Evening, Chad, and Philip Aries will help provide a groomed and beautifully maintained green space this summer for all of our visitors to enjoy.” 

The sheep will live on the Island and munch on a lush grove and eating its invasive plants for the second straight summer. Because of the sheep’s love for herbaceous plants, such as grasses, phragmites, and flowering plants like mugwort and sunflowers, they are the natural choice for this job. Mugwort, phragmites, and other invasive plant species have a competitive nature and crowd other plantings within the park, essentially creating a monoculture. By eating these plants, the sheep will break down and weaken them, preventing them from flowering and the seeds from spreading.

During their first year on the Island, the sheep cleared more than eight acres of invasive plants, expeditiously keeping up with the active growing season and completely clearing many sections of the Island’s park several times over.

“We are excited to be back on Governors Island this year, sharing the animals and expanding their grazing services,” said Kim Tateo, Executive Director and Farm Manager of Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm. “It’s been so great to see how the sheep have helped to improve the plant diversity on Governors Island, and to have that work connect directly with the rest of our flock doing similar work upstate. We can’t wait for Island visitors to learn more about these animals this summer.” 

Prior to the arrival of the sheep family, Trust’s horticulture team spent a lot of time weeding. The sheep are a cost-effective and eco-friendly solution that allows the horticulture team to focus on more productive tasks. 

The Trust will partner with Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm to host several public sheep herding demonstrations on Governors Island throughout the summer. dates will be announced on the Governors Island website in the coming weeks.

For more information about Governors Island, visit www.govisland.org.